here you begin (today at Penn, with Dillard and Didion)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Annie Dillard and Joan Didion will be our guides today in English 135. Voice and meaning will be our quest. We'll consider, for a moment, these two sentiments.

Can both be true?

“Why do you never find anything written about that idiosyncratic thought you advert to, about your fascination with something no one else understands? Because it is up to you. There is something you find interesting, for a reason hard to explain. It is hard to explain because you have never read it on any page; there you begin. You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment." — Annie Dillard, “Write Till You Drop”

And from this:

"We are all brought up in the ethic that others, any others, all others, are by definition more interesting than ourselves; taught to be diffident, just this side of self-effacing... Only the young and very old may recount their dreams at breakfast, dwell upon self, interrupt with memories of beach picnics and favorite Liberty lawn dresses and the rainbow trout in a creak near Colorado Springs. The rest of us are expected, rightly, to affect absorption in other people's favorite dresses, other people's trout."— Joan Didion, "On Keeping a Notebook" 



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